Our Story

Mainstreaming biogas

Posted Thursday 14th November 2013, 5:00pm

Did you catch us on The Project? It probably resulted in some interesting conversation while you were eating your dinner. But did you know that biogas is used for cooking? As we don't see much of it in Australia (or in other developed nations), the safety of biogas is a commonly question asked. To answer this we'll draw from history.

Prior to the 1800s, cooking in homes used coal-fired stoves which were made of heavy cast-iron. The introduction of natural gas stoves and ovens by James Sharp in 1826 initiated the modern kitchens we have today, but there were questions of safety from the public of having gas piped into homes. It was another man who pioneered cooking with gas ovens in Victorian England - Alexis Benoist Soyer, the first celebrity chef. Soyer was an advocate of the use of home gas cooking and built the world famous kitchens of London's Reform Club - a kitchen that became the second most popular tourist attraction in London. To win over the doubting public, he held huge banquets by cooking 600 roasts (including an entire ox) every day, using gas-fired ovens in full view of the diners. By creating this public spectacle he was able to show people that gas wasn't dangerous, but it was in fact the future of their domestic cooking, and he went on to sell a lot of gas stoves for the home - a brilliant example of mainstreaming innovation.

Now back on topic, biogas is by no means new and it is estimated that 30% of the world's population use bioenergy/biogas as their primary energy source for cooking. It is commonplace in India, China and Africa. As stated in one of our earlier posts, Nepal has the largest per capita use of individual biogas generators with about 170,000 in use (2008); and India had an estimated 2 million in 2000. But in the developed nations of the West it's nowhere to be seen. 

Poo Power! hopes to achieve what Soyer has done by mainstreaming biogas. Through demonstrating biogas as a light source in our local dog parks you will be able to see and safely use a biogas generator. As you become more familiar with biogas we may see other uses - hot dogs cooked on the barbecue?

Our advocacy of biogas is echoed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) Task 37 working group, Energy from Biogas:

"Thanks to its simple, reliable and proven technology, AD [anaerobic digestion] has all the advantages to increasingly become one of the most efficient and economical sources of renewable fuel... AD has also been shown to be an economically viable technology for both small-scale rural applications in developing countries and for a range of scales in the developed world." - IEA Bioenergy Update 18

Biogas use is everywhere. The IEA provide country reports from their members but for inspiration of larger project and biogas applications Germany, Sweden, Canada and Australia are some of our favourites.

Which are yours?

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